Context - My personal story:
Okay, this isn't a fitness blog, but here's the deal. Lately I've been trying to think of ways to get in better shape. This spring I've been going on a 5-mile walk every day, which has been good, but now it's time for something more.
Just for a frame of reference, back in highscool/college when I used to work out, I weighed a pretty consistent 180. A few years ago when I was a software engineer, sucking exhaust fumes for two hours a day and sitting behind a desk for the rest, take-out lunch meetings, snacks in the breakroom... you get the picture. In short, I was up to 215 with some serious muffin-top going on. That's a good way to have your heart explode and keel over dead. (I think my obituary would simply be a picture of Twinkie the Kid, and that would explain that.)
Since coming home and chasing kids and chasing around the homestead every day, I'd dropped to 190. That is, 189.6 to be precise, which I was on last Friday morning when I began the FMD fast. (Stay tuned for results...)
FMD? What's that?
Now, back up a little. What is FMD? Well, I explain it this way: Think about most of the diets currently circulating out there -- Keto, Vegetarian/Vegan, Calorie Counter (such as Weight Watchers), and of course there's also an emphasis on "intermittent fasting". Well, which do you choose?
An Italian dude named Dr. Valter Longo came along and decided to smoosh them all into one, called the FMD (Fast Mimicking Diet). How he arrived at this, is he is actually a Gerontologist studying how humans age, and therefore, how they can keep their bodies young. A big part of his plan is to do an FMD, approximately every other month, claiming that it can act as a "reset button" for your whole system.
Naturally, being a 40's-something, this appeals to me. The weight loss aspect appeals to me as well. But most importantly, the "system reset" appeals to me. Without being overly graphic about it, let's just say I've developed "digestive issues" later in life. (I apologize for the TMI, but it's hard to accurately talk about one's personal biology without getting... biological... about it.)
And just as an FYI, here are some of the most useful resources I found to implement this:
- Prolon - worth mentioning, this is Dr Longo's official packaged meals system.
- Cronometer - good online tool for planning meals. It adds up calories as well as the amount of each nutrient you're getting (which is emphasized as very important to the diet)
- ageingadvice.org - has some great recipes for things you can make for this diet
- foreverfreedom.com - created and shared a great google docs spreadsheet that helps you plan thigs out day-by-day
- Quantified Bob - has an alternative google docs spreadsheet you may also like instead
- Finally, here is my spreadsheet of the exact diet plan that I used (based on the foreverfreedom spreadsheet above).
Anyway, after all that research I decided to bite the proverbial low-calorie bullet give it a whirl. Here's the...
Day 1 - (Fri, April 24, 2020):
Is actually a higher-calorie day than the rest of the diet. I can't say anything was much different at all.
My daily walk did just fine as well.
Day 2 - (Sat, April 25, 2020):Though the portions were greatly reduced, I did not feel hungry in the slightest, but right away some serious stuff started happening.
I don't know if you guys have heard of the "Keto Flu" - basically flu-like symptoms can occur when your body is entering a state of ketoisis (that is, burning fats instead of carbohydrates for energy). That's a pretty dry & mild definition though. Suffice it to say I had the granddaddy of all headaches. On top of that, I also had diarrhea which, as aforementioned, is not uncommon. I also had a fever.
Day 3 - (Sun, April 26, 2020):
Woke up without a headache, which after last night, made me feel like Maria Von Trapp out twirling in a meadow somewhere. I thought I had a sore throat, but may have been the power of suggestion. Anyway, I wasn't going to argue with a good thing.
Felt mildly hungry at times, but not like, "Ooh! I'm staaarving...!". More like taking a late lunch kind of hungry.
The hard part is the temptation. My son decided to make a peach pie. That was TORTURE.
That night I had a bout of insomnia and stayed up all night coding. 0% tired, and 0% tired the next day. This is extremely peculiar for me since I tend to have the opposite problem. Normally when my body says "sleep", I'm out, and nothing short of heavy artillery fire can wake me.
Day 4 - (Mon, April 27, 2020):
The day was mostly like yesterday. Not much to report.
The night, however...
Monday is mommy+daddy date night, and, how should I put this mildly...? On the FMD, they say mild exercise only and avoid strenuous activity. Well, Mommy and daddy enjoyed a great deal of, *ahem*, "strenuous activity". (Again, apoligies for the TMI. I just don't know any more tactful way of saying that, and it is relevant to the diet.)
The thing is, with the FMD, you are depleted of calories and only have so much energy. To put it bluntly, engaging in an all-nighter at this point completely wipes you of all energy you have left and leaves you unable to function the next day.
Day 5 - (Tue, April 28, 2020):
Spent most of the day in bed for lack of energy. I started streaming "Mutant X", which, despite being a flagrant X-men knock-off by the Canadians, was pretty good... Well, from what I could tell, anyway. Kept falling asleep... during the daytime!
I tried to get up a couple of times, but felt immediately woozy. Not cool.
In fact, I discovered a new way that coffee can keep you awake. True story! How it works is:
1) you're barely conscious, so you beg your daughter to bring in some java
2) she heats some up but gets it blisteringly hot
3) you hang onto it waiting for it to cool whilst watching a show about mutants (last part, optional)
4) you fall asleep
5) you wake up to pain and screaming!
Well, since I was awake, I went on my walk. Totally and completely without energy after that, but managed to make it till bedtime without total collapse.
Day 6 - (Wed, April 29, 2020):
Today is the "transition" day. It technically isn't part of the diet because you can eat whatever you want. They recommend treating it a little special and avoiding meats, dairy, etc. just because they don't want your stomach to revolt.
Since it's officially over now, this brings us to...
I weighed in this morning at 184.2 pounds. Which gives us a total weight loss of... drumroll, please... 5.4 pounds!!!
Wait. All that rigmarole for just 5 pounds? Well, I *guess* that's good, but meh. I'm looking back at all these websites and youtubes I saw in preparation for this, which claim 15 or more pounds. Granted, maybe their metabolism is different than mine, but the situation makes me feel like a referee about to throw the B.S. flag on the field.
Meager results, but I suppose it's good. As Bob would say, "baby steps".
As far as what it was doing health-wise? Hard to say for sure. My body definitely went on a wild rollercoaster of different feelings, so something was definitely going on there. Was this the famed "reset button" of myth and legend? I guess I can't say. I'll come back and update this with status later whether this makes a noticeable difference in my everyday metabolism.
The fast wasn't all that bad, nor as extreme as the interwebs led me to believe. Again, any hunger experienced was a rare occurrence and pretty mild at that. I was able to stick to the diet verbatim without cheats, and maintained my usual daily walks without much trouble.
Was it worth it?/Would I recommend it to you? Yeah, maybe. There was certainly some progress, and I think that just seeing what would happen was a good experience. Who knows, maybe your results would come out even better than mine! I also learned a lot of great new recipes, including cucumber gazpacho soup (again, that's from agingadvice.org), so the time was not wasted.
Am I, personally, going to do it again in two months as prescribed? Don't know for sure, but probably not. I've decided on a wild new personal fitness goal, which is probably incompatible, and which I will be unveiling soon. Follow me on social media for the deets as they unfold. ;)
Also, feel free to hurl some questions/comments my way if there's something I missed.
Till next time,
Live YOUR adventure!
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